Boy, when I read what I wrote at 32 I cringe and marvel at the change – for better or worse!

The Truth About Cinderella’s Beauty


Renee Riddle (now Wood)

August 31, 1991

            I discovered yesterday, a horrible lie that this world has ingrained in me since I was very young.  When I first realized this lie, I was very angry because I understood now why I have always dreaded new situations and meeting new people so much.  Simply going to a new church or a different doctor can take days to muster up the courage that I need to do this.  Going on a job interview involves many sleepless nights going through the interview in my mind.  What should I wear?  Should I use my wheelchair or walker?  Which would they prefer?  Probably neither!  Even making phone calls to places that don’t know me can be somewhat unbearable.  I try to get out of it as much as possible.  Even so, my inner weakness never stopped me in the long run, it just made things seem harder than they actually were.  It always feels like you’re trying to make it in a world that you really don’t belong in.  Society teaches us that we must get a job, we must strive to do the “norms” and we must fit in even if society says we don’t.  It’s like a constant double-binded message; “you must try, but you can’t achieve it, of course.” 

  Like in Cinderella, the thing was to be able to marry the prince.  Every young woman, including Cinderella, was encouraged to pursue this dream, but when it came time for the ball, Cinderella got left behind because everyone knew, including Cinderella, that she was not worthy of the prince.  In her doubts and fears, and in her unworthiness, she followed her dream the best way she could — in her heart.    

Did her dream come true because she believed in herself?  Did she realize she was truly a princess at heart?  No!  She believed in something greater then herself!  That’s what attracted the prince to her.  Even though she thought herself to be unworthy, she came as if she were worthy.  She accepted a gift she felt she did not deserve.  How much more beautiful she was for this.  How much more thankful she was than the others would have been since they felt themselves worthy of marrying a prince.

            O.k., o.k., what’s done in the past is history, I can’t change it and I can’t have a pity-party because it ain’t going to do any good anyway!  So what do I do?  How do I change from 32 years of thinking of myself as a pile of ashes striving to live in a world of diamonds?  Does everyone see me as a diamond who’s acting like a pile of ashes?  No, I don’t think so because I thought of myself as ashes on the inside (it was hidden), but on the outside I acted like a diamond because that’s how I was expected to behave.  So I think what other’s saw is a diamond timidly acting like a diamond.  I was the one who struggled on the inside, in my eyes I saw myself being ashes, struggling to live my life as if I were as worthy as a diamond.  It hasn’t affected my outer life, so why do I need to change the way I see myself?  I am more sensitive to others needs because I see them as more important than my own.  Besides, if someone can see a diamond within all my ashes, that would make me happier and more thankful just to see me as one diamond among many.

            I may not believe in myself (I probably still don’t really see myself as a diamond.  After 32 years, it’s too much.  I can’t change overnight.), but I believe in something much greater.  Someone Who can truly turn real ashes into real diamonds, and turn real diamonds into real ashes — if He so pleases.



  1. I was fortunate to be able to debunk a bunch of spiritual half truths and lies that had a person feeling very bad about themselves…After i was done I reflected that what I told him also pertained to me…it made me feel better also…Sometimes we r our own worst critiques….We R all diamonds because of Him!

  2. I would never see you as ashes. Ashes is all burned up and is the final product. As a woman with a disability of your body I can see where it is hard for you to see yourself as others see you. Myself I see you as a strong woman, a woman whose life may not be a fairy tale, but a tale about strength, speaking the truth whether people want to hear it or not, being able to understand other people who have Disabilites because you live that life. You are a fighter so instead of Cinderella I think next time it should be titled “Rocky”

    • Wow, Sadie you know me well for not seeing me that often. Your assessment is correct – “Rocky” is my outer “persona”. Also remember that I’m 53 now, I wrote that piece at age 32, over 20 years ago and of course life changes a person.

      Yss, I have always been a defender of “truth” especially when it concerns persons with disabilities. I still live with some fear, but I had a good spiritual director once who told me: “Renee, courage is not acting in the absence of fear. Courage is acting inspite of great fear because it’s the right thing todo”. But I think “fear” keeps me balanced. It causes me to pause and think before I open my big mouth! 😉

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